Thursday, December 20, 2012

Great Math Resources for 8th grade

Teaching math is no walk in the park... teaching math to an eighth grader... well... let's just say having a few tricks up your sleeve just might help you make it through.

As a rule, present math to your child as a puzzle to be solved. Each math problem has an exact answer and is a puzzle... present math problems in a fun way to further this idea!

Allow your children to do online math games to keep their review time fun!

Use engaging eighth grade math curriculum to help keep their interest!

Use alternate programs like aleks math or math u see.

Make math practical by taking them to the store and calculating sale prices... or let them do your coupon grocery shopping with a set budget.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Don't be Afraid of Change

Homeschooling is a rather fluid way to educate? Do you agree? Homeschooling can be many things. From an unschooler, to a classical homeschooler. There are many many things that homeschooling can be. Yet, even within one family's homeschool it can change. In fact, it should change if it needs to. Confused? Let me explain.

Many homeschooling families pick their curriculum or course of study from what they have heard is good... and that isn't a bad principle. Yet, often what works for one homeschooling family isn't what works for yours. If you find yourself stuck with a curriculum that is killing your joy for homeschooling...you have got to ditch it. Don't tell yourself to hang on to it, if it isn't a good match for your child or for your family. Just as there are many different types of homeschooling methods... there are many more types of homeschooling families. The curriculum options that we have for homeschooling today are innumerable... there is a perfect homeschool curriculum out there for your family...
1) determine what your family's needs are
2) determine your child's homeschool learning styles
3) find curriculum that matches these
4) Determine which curriculum you like best from the ones that match your needs
5) Make sure everyone in the family likes the chosen option... everyone has to live with it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Writing Wishes

As a homeschool mother of six, I often feel overwhelmed at the great task of making my children good writers. It seems like a huge mountain of a responsibility that I fall so short of. Yet, a good writer will be a good writer for the rest of their lives. If I can get the mechanics and the ideas across to them, they still need inspiration. My wish is that I could teach each of my children how to write well.

I have used several different types of writing programs, and really like this homeschool online writing curriculum. I know that if they can achieve this, they will be well served throughout high school. I know that if I can teach them good writing skills in high school... they will be successful in college and able to meet the constant demands that involve writing skills. I also know that if they can become accomplished writers... they will be able to voice themselves creatively whenever they need to. I will also know that if they choose to... they will be able to teach their children if they every homeschool.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nurturing Good Character

Readin', ritin', and rithmetic aren't everything. I believe that most homeschoolers know this. Which is why they are investing more time into their own children, and educating them in the way that they believe is right. But, beyond the basic core subjects... there is really a whole lot more that we need to teach our children.

Bringing out good character qualities are lessons that will not only last our children a lifetime, but also serve them well in school and the workplace. When we take time to instill honesty, justice, kindness, and even mercy into our children... we are investing not only in them, but our future as a country, and also our future grandchildren.

Teaching your 8th grader a solid foundation in good character is essential to making them a person who can adapt and function within a variety of situations. When children are taught good character, for some reason it seems to also make them more confident and self-assured. Meeting the emotional and moral needs of our children is a part of homeschooling beyond the books!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

State History for Homeschoolers

History is one of my favorite subjects. I think I might enjoy it, simply because I love antiques and historical homes. Yet, part of this is a fascination with all things from a previous culture. I like to learn how they dressed, what they ate, how they lived... it is so interesting. So, teaching history at our house likes to include visiting historical places.

What better historical places - than those right in your own backyard. The study of state history can really come alive when you study it in conjunction with historical places that you can visit. This is an awesome way to really capture your state history and make it come alive. Use the internet as a resource for great field trip ideas, and bring it all together with a visit. You can even tie it in to a literature study and review some great books about historical places in your state.

I'll bet that you'll discover some incredible things about your amazing state!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Using Music for Education

Have you ever been somewhere and heard background classical music playing quietly? Doesn't it relax you? When I was a teenager, my husband (boyfriend then) would come over and I would practice the piano while he sat and listened... almost every time he would be so relaxed he was yawning. Not every classical piece of music will yield this result, but many of them do.
There have been many studies of how classical music relaxes students and actually helps them learn. Yet, there are also studies that show that students who are involved in learning how to play their own classical type instrument are more likely to do well in their school studies. There is a definite link to good music and learning!
Next time the kids are stressed out - or are stressing you out... take a minute and turn on some quiet classical music or maybe even find some music games for them to play. I'll bet learning will pick up and you'll be able to watch the tension melt away.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Time for 8th Grade Art

Studying, learning, growing, maturing... all of these are part of the 8th grade year. Yet, establishing a sense of what is good and fine in the world around them is also a part of growing up. I love art, not only drawing art, but also studying art. By introducing our students to fine art, we are giving them a way to understand and determine what is quality and beautiful in the world of art.

Have you ever noticed that some people just have that gift of being able to see quality... they find it when they shop for clothing, or when they buy a car, or a home... I am not talking about spending millions of dollars... I am talking about knowing quality and beauty when you see it. Not everyone has that gift. Yet, teaching and training our children in the fine arts does establish this sense of quality, understanding of design, and balance. It is training the "other side" of the person... or what I like to call training the "whole man."

Art education is not just an elective. This subject can actually make the difference in a students achievement, and even his/her testing abilities. Art education is important!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Let's Get up and Get Fit!

What do you think about exercise? For... against... not sayin'? Exercise is important...even more so in our day and age. With all of the fast food, easy fix boxed foods, and preservatives our children are ingesting more "fake" foods than ever. Couple that with all the computer use, video games, and cable tv... and we have a monster on our hands.

Our children need to be taught that exercise should be a part of their daily lives, whether they are homeschooling or not. They should see us doing it regularly, and they will emulate our example. Your middle school student needs a healthy amount of exercise each day, even if it is only a walk. The typical 8th graders muscles are growing rapidly, and thus needs to be stretched and worked. Not to mention the fact that at this age, habits are forming that will become part of their daily lives.

Get up and Get fit... make exercise a daily habit!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Classical Education for Middle Schoolers

Classical education was first developed in the Middle Ages with the trivium and quadrivium as being its essential parts. Classical education has moved through the centuries with each culture and age adding its own individual twist to its pedagogy.

Classical education is a good fit for most college prep homeschoolers. This method of education seeks to systematically teach its students all knowledge through a methodical framework. The Classical education movement seen in the U.S. over the past decade has been an adjustment of this same method. This education is founded upon the quadrivium or the teaching of mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, and theology. Today's classical education in its purest sense is still very similar. Within philosophy there is rooms for history as well as logic (critical thinking as coined today).

A classical education for your middle school student would include these topics and probably many more.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tips for 8th Grade Literature

Learning through literature is an awesome way to get an education. It can help students really understand and grasp various concepts that they just haven't been able to get through standard means of education. Learning through literature like trade books - can open doors of understanding that textbooks often close.

1) Make visiting your library a regular occurrence.
2) Allow your children to read at any time... even if it means staying up a bit after they get in bed.
3) Read together
4) Read aloud to them during the day
5) Encourage them to discover the types of books that will help them learn even if the book is fun and engaging
6) Plan your school year lessons around engaging and great classic literature

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

8th Grade Course Requirements

The beauty of homeschooling is freedom... wouldn't you agree? Sure... but within that there is room for accountability. Come on... everyone needs it. I know I do! I have been a teacher for over 15 years (not counting homeschooling) and I get lazy! I need accountability to make me - make my children learn what they need to learn.

With that said, if your eighth grader plans on going to college there will be certain courses that he/she will need to take in order to fully prepare them for their future education. With this in mind, looking over what courses are generally accepted to prepare high schoolers for college... we can look at what courses an 8th grader would need to prepare them for high school.

Typically their courses include:
Language Arts (try to include some SAT prep vocabulary words)
Pre Algebra ( if your student could do Algebra this year, that would allow them to go on to higher maths during high school)
Social Studies
Science (If you start your student on a high school level science now, they can again take more complex college prep courses later)
PE
Health

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Prepared for College?

Do you ever wonder if you are really preparing your child for college? Do you ever wonder if there is something that you are missing? Some people think that high school preparation is plenty, and they may be right. Yet, I believe that starting in Junior with some college preparation is worth it. Everyone goes to high school, so when you get there you may as well make it count toward college.

Even in eighth grade, I encourage my children to think about what they want to do in the future. I tell them to look at their lives, what they like to do, what they are passionate about and where their interests lie. They should examine their lives to determine where their strengths lie and what they would be suitable doing. They can make plans and a schedule to help them organize what they need to do over the next four years.

Just thinking about the future at this time, will help them to get on the right track.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Putting Some Mason in Your Learning

I love Charlotte Mason's approach to learning. It is so fresh and so "individual." Yet, the Charlotte Mason style learning isn't just for the little ones. You can effectively use Charlotte Mason's principles of education in your homeschool grades all the way through high school This means that you can incorporate living books, nature walks, and spontaneous learning. The goal that Ms. Mason had in mind, was inspiring a love for learning in each child.

Truly, using the living books that C. Mason suggested... which are really books that include characters that the child can connect with... are ways to learn without the drudgery of textbooks. When reading through these lists our children can get connected with parts of history, science, math, and even the study of nature. It all boils down to a different way to look at education itself. Definitely a way to get your homeschool learning... out of the box!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Homeschool Resources

Homeschooling is a big adventure, even when you start getting into middle school. The time is still pretty intensive, though at this point your junior high school student should be able to homeschool themselves. They are going to need direction, input, advice, and guidance - yet on a regular basis they should be able to homeschool independently.
There are great resources available to the homeschooling family. Resources that include videos, online courses, teacher directed online courses, co-op courses, and even great literature based studies.
Here are some great resources for eighth grade learning
Skill builders
Eighth grade math worksheets
Reading comprehension

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Are you a techie?

Homeschool learning is full of freedom. Freedom to homeschool as we wish, freedom to homeschool what we wish, and freedom to dress in our pajamas for school... if we wish. Homeschool learning can be maximized to be so much fun. Some people have found that homeschooling online really gives an added dimension to homeschooling.
At our house we would resoundingly agree. We use some homeschooling textbooks, some homeschool videos, I teach some courses, and then we use an online 8th grade curriculum. As you know our blog is all about online homeschooling. It really brings an added dimension. Having a rainy boring day, get a bit techy and do some extra online work. There are tons of free online resources, lots of great educational games, and many interesting things that can all contribute to your eighth graders learning potential!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What should my eighth grader study?

A lot of homeschooling families wonder just what 8th graders study at "regular" schools. Others just don't care or think it isn't a big deal to know what others are learning - if their child is learning and advancing. I have an opinion somewhere in the middle. I want to know what others are learning, but then I will set the pace for my child where I think they should be. Just knowing what others are studying, lets me have a faint idea if my kids are above or below their peers in school. I don't let this information rule me, I use it as I see fit.
As I plan my eighth graders course of study, I always try to make sure that my children are doing above and beyond what typical schoolers do. I mean, why shouldn't they? They have a lot more time on their hands and they have one on one access to their teacher.
The following is a typical listing of the minimum requirements for 8th grade study.
1)physical science
2)social studies including
  • Our American culture

  • U. S. political system

  • U. S. economic system

  • U. S. government

  • U. S. geography

  • 3) Pre-algebra
    4)Language Arts
    • include drama
    • literature
    • grammar
    • spelling
    5)Health and Safety

    Friday, April 20, 2012

    Meeting Math Challenges Head on

    I love math... I always have. For some reason, the absolute truths within the study of math just appeal to me. I enjoy that most of the time everything is black and white. Yet, what appeals most to me is also what others hate about it.

    Math is one of those subjects that can elicit strong emotion from people. They either love it or hate it. As a tutor I get to meet a lot of those students who hate it. Yet, with my experience a student can actually learn to love a subject that they previously hated. If you take a student who has trouble or just doesn't quite get math, and walk them through it, and present eighth grade math to them in a way that they can understand. This can completely change their perception of the subject. Present math to struggling students as a fun puzzle to figure out, and you have a fun challenge instead of boring course work. Half of our perception of our struggles is how we view them. Change it around, present things in a different light - and that light might make all the difference.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Making Science a Blast

    Teaching a typical eighth grade science curriculum can be a bit of a drag. Yet, using a curriculum that meets your families particular needs can make all the difference in the world. The best way to get your children the best science education possible is to consider all the options.

    1)Your children are individuals. Each child has their own way of learning. As you decide how you plan to educate your children, you should take their learning styles into consideration.
    2) You should determine exactly what your goals are for your homeschool. You need to know why and how you will homeschool. If your desire is to make your children college prep, then you need to prepare accordingly.
    3) Find a homeschool curriculum that meets each of these needs.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Eighth Grade Grammar

    Learning proper grammar and syntax is not typically an eighth graders favorite subject. Really, I can't blame them. There are tons of rules and then more exceptions to those rules. English grammar can get so confusing that the student can't make heads or tails of it.

    Teaching your eighth graders effective grammar can be easy if you use a great tool. Grammar study is a key principle of good writing, not to mention good speaking. Effective use of grammar can also show people that you are educated and know what you are talking about. Grammar is essential. Yet, eighth graders needs something more than just a textbook knowledge of the subject. An exciting online tool can make this education can come alive. We use an eighth grade online curriculum that really helps our children see the big picture and have fun at the same time. Setting a solid foundation with good grammar is a cornerstone of the homeschool.

    Saturday, March 10, 2012

    I can find it, Can you?

    Eighth grade is a host to many learning adventures. It even includes an introduction to Algebra. Yet, there is one subject that dosen't need to be forgotten, and that's geography. As your child get older it dosen't mean that they should forsake the study of geography. There is a myriad of useful information in this subject that students this age still need to learn.

    In fact, there are aspects to geography that are very important for your child to learn. During this year of important discoveries make sure to include geography in your essential studies. Just to give you an idea of what 8th graders should know about geography you can take this simple quiz.

    Eighth grade geography quiz

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Online Learning for 8th Grade

    Eighth graders are amazing. They are a cross between a young person and a young adult. They want to appear grown up, yet they still love playing games. My own junior high age children struggle with these contradicting forces in their lives. They can't decide if they are grown or if they are still children. Sometimes it's amusing to watch, other times it is just pitiful.

    That's where online education comes in, they enjoy fun and games - certain types of online education can supply this. Yet, I like to have a challenging homeschool curriculum that will adequately prepare them for their future. We have found the solution to both of our desires in an online curriculum. We use it daily, it is exciting, and challenging. Perfectly meeting the needs of my maturing, yet not so grown big kids!

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    Get a jump on Language

    You typically don't see foreign languages as a course until your students get to high school. But would you say I was crazy if I liked to start mine in elementary or junior high school? Well, lets just say, I am a bit disgruntle with the "way we always do it" method. I took three years of Spanish in high school, and I cannot speakit fluently. It was a waste of time.
    I don't want this to happen to my children. If we are going to learn spanish - we are going to speak it! We have invested in a great language program and found some foreign language games too.  I have started one of my children in 8th grade... I plan to start the others when they reach 7th grade.
    The idea is that instead of cramming it all in to two or three years. You take 5-6 to learn the language thoroughly and be able to speak it fluently. What an asset that would be if they were able to finish high school and be fluent in a foreign language...

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    8th Grade Literature Learning

    The same old thing day in and day out can really get boring. Do you ever feel like you're stuck in a rut with your homeschool schedule? Well, don't feel obligated... just out of that rut and try something different.
    A literature based approach to learning, can be your answer. Sometimes when we get stuck and just feel like our schedule has become our taskmaster - we'll just break it! Take a time off - and switch to literature based learning. You have tons of options, but a couple more popular are doing a literature unit using a theme... or just reading a series of related books on a topic. If you were studying american history - and wanted a break - switch to reading a series of American History biographies.
    This type of learning will usually get your students refreshed and back to peak performance... Don't let the doldrums rob you of your love of learning!

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Homeschool stress

    Are you at the place that you feel like you're drowning? Don't despair, you are not alone. Homeschooling is a great endeavor, a worthy cause, and a wonderful investment...but it isn't a bed of roses. You are with your children all day every day, and sometimes that in itself can be overwhelming. Homeschooling is filled with built in pressure. We, as parents or guardians are automatically under pressure to "make sure" that our children are understanding and getting what they are supposed to be learning. It isn't easy, but don't despair. You are one of the few people in the world that knows your child the best, and because of this you are best able to meet his/her needs.

    At times I have felt completely overwhelmed. It is during these times, that I have stopped what I was doing and took a few days off. Declare a holiday until you are in a better mindset. (Hopefully that won't take all year! :)) Take time to take inventory of what you are doing...is it unrealistic... is it just too much...can you adjust your schedule to make more time for non-stressful things... do you need to find a different homeschool curriculum that may alleviate the stress... Don't just let the stress eat you alive, try to get rid of it. Find a way to eliminate the things that are causing the issue. As you work through this, allow yourself time to heal.

    Once you are able to find a more appropriate schedule or curriculum, jump back in. After a bit of rest, and a new schedule you may just find you are ready to go again!